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The last time I saw the man who fired my mother for grieving her son’s death for five days instead of the three days of bereavement he’d so graciously suggested, he was eating a donut at my mother’s desk, a glutinous glob of grape jelly glued to his clean-shaven jawline. It was before he fired her, before my brother died, because something came up and he didn’t make it to the funeral so I hadn’t seen him there. My mother was his paralegal, and as a girl, I knew what a lawyer was, but I didn’t really know what a paralegal was, so I looked it up. Para: something that is separate from the word it's next to but still related to it. Yes, that felt right. She was related to him, in that she worked for him, in that she drove his daughters to school some days, in that when he called her in the middle of the night and said one of the kids was arrested for shoplifting, he called my mother in to write the daughter’s essay to the court about why she was sorry and what she had learned. Yes, my mother was related to him, in that she worked for him, but she was entirely separate from his being.

When I think of him, I think of that chunk of jelly plastered to skin, the way it threatened to drip on my mother’s oversized planner, with all the penciled-in activities of his children and his wife and his life.

I saw him the other day, as I was walking into an NFL game. I had a buzz on from the pre-game tailgate menu: the oysters and the jerk chicken wings and the whiskey shots with my widowed father. But I knew him immediately. I was an adult now, and he wasn’t a lawyer anymore, it seemed, as he was at the gate of the stadium scanning tickets. I stretched my hand out to him with my ticket for section 114 and waited for him to recognize me. I saw that spark of recognition, that gleam of guilt I’d caught in his eye. Same as when I caught him eating that donut at my mother’s desk.

“You’ve got a little something on your chin,” I said, and he reached his fingers up and dabbed at his face in a panic. I pulled my ticket from his hand, the ticket that had belonged to my mother, and walked through the metal detector and into the game to take her seat.